Are Armada and Academy worth playing?


Greetings. Been on a tear playing through Wing Commander games. At this point, I've torn through 1-4 w/ expansions, and privateer. I've been having a blast and was about to load up Privateer 2, but was wondering if Armada or Academy were worth checking out. As I understand it, neither of these have a story mode, and whatever multiplayer was available for Armada is not an option in the modern era. Is their any point to spending time with these? Or should I move on. Are there any Academy/Armada fans out there that could chime in or give me any suggestions? Thanks for your time.

Academy is more like an advanced training sim for Wing Commander II. I find it's good when you have a hankerin' to play with the ships from WC2 without having to play through the whole campaign. Also fun to challenge yourself with - set yourself up with six or seven Jratheks at a Nav Point, in a minefield, with you flying solo in an Epee, that sort of thing. And the gauntlet mode is nothing to sneeze at.

Whether or not you'd enjoy Armada depends on whether or not you enjoy strategy games. There's a lot of micromanagement involved with Armada, especially if you want a descent chance of winning it. I find the AI in the Armada/Campaign modes to be a little lacking on everything but the highest setting (and then a bit too much on that highest setting). That said, the gauntlet mode is worth trying at least once. And as far as the multiplayer mode is concerned, Proving Grounds works in the modern era. You can even set the game up to play split-screen; had many a fun Sunday evenings with my friends in my youth dogfighting one another on the same box. Armada/Campaign mode has to be done with one guy out of the room, of course, but it's still easily playable this way.

TL/DR: Both games are definitely worth it. Six bucks a pop at (and they've been on sale fairly regularly over the last couple of years).
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They are worth it for the cost and Armada is a lot of fun multiplayer. But, like capi said, there isn't a ton to them in terms of single player stuff compared to the other games. But I think they are worth the few bucks and checking them off the list.
There are some days where I would put Armada as my second favorite WC game. I have some very fond memories of playing it on a hot summer night and purposely beating the cats back to only 3 systems on the campaign mode.

That said, I don't think I've played it since the Pentium 3 era of PCs, so rose-tinted glasses and all that...
Even though the strategic part of "Armada" lacks the depth of games like "Master of Orion", "Star Wars: Rebellion" or "Star Trek: Birth of the Federation", it's still lots of fun and I love the idea of having a turn-based strategy combined with a space combat simulator.
I've always wanted to see a remake or a successor (fan-made) as PIArmada was never finished.
Providing a different voice to this discussion, the plain and simple answer is "no, not worth it" in my opinion. Sure, buying them for just a few dollars to satisfy curiosity is worth it (I did that) but worth playing, as twotone8 asked, they really are not.

WingCommander holds up today because Chris Roberts understood how story and context improve gameplay and lend weight to all of it. The two mentioned titles totally lack those qualities and really do nothing to replace them. The added mechanics are incredibly shallow and while some of the content was certainly better received way back, I would urge any modern gamer to stay away from these games. You simply have so much better options, including a Wing Commander, namely Prophecy :)

I think in today's gaming world, Armada and Academy would be called quick cash-crabs.
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Forgot to add: Armada has the best in-universe manual of the series, Voices Of War. If you're into the lore or just want a good read, its a must.
I think I'm gonna go along with Vidmaster on this one. I tore through 1-4 very quickly. Privateer has proven to be my favorite in the series I believe. After giving Armada a good college try, I've decided to skip it and move on to Privateer 2. Armada is just not for me. So far I've only played a few hours of Privateer 2, and as strange and disorienting as it may be, it's more my speed than Armada was.
I think in today's gaming world, Armada and Academy would be called quick cash-crabs.

Maybe today they would be, but there's a lot of historical context that's lost when comparing to today's gaming world. Academy isn't just WC1's TrainSim on steroids. It's a mission builder, and you could export your creations and trade them on a floppy disk or BBS with friends. The variety of missions you could set up, including customizable wingmen and your choice of ship, which eventually were a standard feature in WC3, were revolutionary for the series. Academy was made based on the user demands for a product in the WC universe that could do what it does, and it delivered. I would say the closest comparison in today's world is something like Star Citizen's Arena Commander. Both are products with a frenzied fan base just clamoring to dork around and try out different ships to their heart's content. Neither are really complete gaming experiences in and of themselves, but that didn't/doesn't stop people from shelling out lots of money for the chance to play them and being happy with their purchase.

If you already bought Armada, do be sure you read through its Voices of War manual, which provides some great backstory of a pretty desperate time in the war, for both sides. It's actually much easier to play Armada now than it was in the '90s due to the DOSBox ability to set up an server that people can connect to built-in. The split screen was really cool, and the obvious ability to play multiplayer is great. Proving Grounds had multiplayer lobbies and online infrastructure that was years ahead of its time. And the series is still the only place you can go to find a bonafide cooperative multiplayer campaign (two of them actually, Confed and Kilrathi!) in the Wing Commander universe. I happen to like strategy games as much as I like space sims, so it's perfect for me. I always wish people played it more.
For me the good part of Academy was/is the Gauntlet: one big challenge you can take a shot at now and then. Took me 15 years to beat it - with best ship and wingman; next I'll have to get through it solo or with one of the other ships...
I've never been too fond of Armada, but that may have been due lack of suitable hardware.
I love Privateer 2. Aside being a good game - in some ways better and some ways worse than Privateer - I like to call it "the best movie I've played". OK the story is mostly corny, but some dialogue is good and the actors are best I've ever seen in a game, besides Malcolm McDowell.